Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Ukraine denies any role in Dagestan airport riot

Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak denied Russian accusations Monday that Ukraine had a role in anti-Israel unrest in the Russian republic Dagestan at the weekend.

 “The storm is certainly already raging,” Podolyak commented on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that the “preconditions” for the riot in Dagestan in which a mob of pro-Palestinian protestors stormed an airport, some chanting antisemitic slogans and reportedly seeking Jewish passengers off a flight from Tel Aviv had been “formed by decades of wrong.”

“‘Pseudo-assimilative’ policies, toleration of the lawless behavior of aggressive regimes that violate global rules, and obvious flirting with Russian plans to ‘change the world order,’ have led to today’s sad consequences and tragedies,” he said.

Law enforcement officers patrol an area outside the airport in Makhachkala on October 30, 2023. Russian police on October 30, 2023 said they had arrested 60 people suspected of storming an airport in the Muslim-majority Caucasus republic of Dagestan, seeking to attack Jewish passengers coming from Israel. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

“We are reaping increasingly bitter fruits: the rooting of hatred towards various ethnic groups with subsequent attempts to destroy them; residual destruction of world institutions; media bravado with outright atrocities against the civilian population and escalation of war with a genocidal component,” he added.

Podolyak’s comments come after Russia accused the West, and Ukraine, of orchestrating the unrest in Dagestan and of trying to divide Russian society, without presenting any evidence to back up its claims. Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet senior officials Monday evening to discuss the incident in Dagestan.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia beefs up forces near Bakhmut, switches from defensive posture

Russia has significantly bulked up its forces around the devastated city of Bakhmut in the east and has switched its troops from a defensive posture to taking “active actions”, a Ukrainian military commander said on Monday.

Russia captured Bakhmut, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the 20-month war, in May. Ukraine has been on the counteroffensive since June to try to retake occupied land in the south and east, including the town.

An aerial view of the city of Bakhmut totally destroyed from heavy battles on September 27, 2023 in Bakhmut, Ukraine. 

Libkos | Getty Images

“In the Bakhmut area, the enemy has significantly strengthened its grouping and switched from defence to active actions,” General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the ground forces, wrote on Telegram messenger.

He described the situation in the east as difficult with Russian forces particularly active near the northeastern Ukrainian-held town of Kupiansk, where he said Moscow’s troops were trying to advance simultaneously in several directions.

Russian troops have suffered heavy losses, he said. Reuters could not independently verify that assertion or the battlefield account.

In its daily report on the fighting, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces continued in their attempts to regain control over Andriivka to the south of Bakhmut, which Kyiv’s forces said they had retaken in September.

It said that Ukraine’s troops continued to conduct their own assault operations south of Bakhmut and were inflicting losses in manpower and equipment. Russia has also been pushing in recent weeks to encircle and capture the eastern town of Avdiivka.

— Reuters

Ukraine to blame for Dagestan airport riots, Russia’s foreign ministry claims

Russia’s foreign ministry claimed Ukraine had a “direct and key role” in a riot in Dagestan in which anti-Israel rioters stormed an airport reportedly looking for passengers who had arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed Monday that the riot in Dagestan on Sunday was “the result of an external provocation planned and carried out with an aim to undermine the harmonious development and ethnic … unity of the people of the Russian Federation.”

“In the implementation of their next destructive action, a direct and key role was assigned to the criminal Kyiv regime, which in turn acted through the hands of notorious Russophobes who settled there,” she said. Zakharova did not present evidence for her claims.

A New Year decoration stylized as the “Kremlin Star,” a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, in Moscow, on Jan. 2, 2023.

Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

Earlier, the Kremlin appeared to blame the West for the incident, saying it was trying to “split Russian society.”

Ukraine has not yet responded directly to Russia’s comments but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, described video footage of the mob at the Makhachkala airport as “appalling” and said it was “not an isolated incident … but rather part of Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations, which is propagated by state television, pundits, and authorities.”

“For Russian propaganda talking heads on official television, hate rhetoric is routine. Even the most recent Middle East escalation prompted antisemitic statements from Russian ideologists,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Flights from Tel Aviv to Makhachkala being redirected for now, Russian authorities say

This photograph shows Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) vans parked at the airport in Makhachkala on October 30, 2023.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

Russia’s aviation watchdog Rosaviatsiya said on Monday that flights from Tel Aviv to Makhachkala and Mineralniye Vody, both in Russia’s heavily Muslim North Caucasus, would be temporarily redirected to other cities.

The interior ministry said earlier that 60 people had been arrested after an anti-Israeli mob stormed Makhachkala airport in the Dagestan region on Sunday as a plane arrived from Israel.

— Reuters

Russia says it shot down eight Storm Shadow cruise missiles fired at Crimea

Russia’s defense ministry said Monday that it has shot down eight Storm Shadow cruise missiles that Ukraine had launched at targets in Crimea.

“An attempt to attack the Kyiv regime with eight Storm Shadow cruise missiles on targets on the Crimean peninsula was stopped,” the ministry said on Telegram.

Air-launched long-range Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missile, manufactured by MBDA, pictured at the 54th International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 20, 2023. 

Benoit Tessier | Reuters

“As a result of air defense systems repelling the attack, all missiles were shot down,” it claimed. CNBC was unable to confirm the report.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and the peninsula’s port of Sevastopol has long been the home of Russia’s prized Black Sea Fleet, making it a key target for Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion. An increasing number of attacks on Crimean ports recently has reportedly prompted Russia to withdraw the bulk of its fleet from its main base.

The U.K. supplied Ukraine with long-rage Storm Shadow missiles earlier this year and they’ve been used previously to target Russian bases in Crimea, including its navy’s headquarters.

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin to discuss ‘the West’s attempts’ to divide Russian society, Kremlin says

A day after an angry anti-Israel mob stormed a Russian airport, President Vladimir Putin is to hold a meeting with senior officials in which he’ll discuss what the Kremlin described as Western attempts to “split Russian society.”

The Kremlin said Monday that the meeting comes after an angry mob stormed an airport in Russian republic Dagestan, reportedly looking for passengers arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv.

People in the crowd walk shouting antisemitic slogans at an airfield of the airport in Makhachkala, Russia, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.


The Kremlin appeared to blame the West for the incident, claiming it had used the escalating tensions in the Middle East to sow discord in Russia itself, without providing evidence to back the claim.

“Putin plans to hold a large representative meeting today at approximately 19:00 Moscow time and discuss the West’s attempts to use events in the Middle East to split Russian society. A detailed conversation will take place,” the Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, in comments published by Russian news agency Tass.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference at the Third Belt and Road Forum on Oct. 18, 2023, in Beijing.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Putin will speak and the meeting will be held behind closed doors. Russia’s defense minister and the heads of the intelligence services will attend the meeting.

— Holly Ellyatt

Odesa ship repair plant hit in Russian strike

The Ukrainian state flag flies on a pedestal where the monument to Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, also known as Monument to the founders of Odesa, once stood on Jan. 8, 2023 in Odesa, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Two people have been injured in a Russian attack on a ship repair plant in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa, the head of the region’s military administration said Monday. 

“As a result of the attack, a fire broke out, which was promptly extinguished by our rescuers. The administrative building and equipment of the enterprise were damaged,” Odesa’s regional military administration head Oleh Kiper said on Telegram. Two people are in hospital, he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian mercenary group seeks female recruits, UK says

A Russian state-backed private military company (PMC) is attempting to recruit women into combat roles in Ukraine for the first time, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

In its latest intelligence update Monday, the U.K. said recent social media adverts have appealed for female recruits to join Borz Battalion and to work as snipers and uncrewed aerial vehicle operators. Borz Battalion is part of a Russian PMC called “Redut,” which the U.K. said was “likely directly sponsored by the Russian Main Directorate of Intelligence.”

“In March 2023, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that 1,100 women were deployed in Ukraine, which would equate to only around 0.3 percent of its force. As Redut’s advert points out, they currently serve in mostly medical support and food service roles,” the ministry said in an update posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A woman showing her support of Russia’s war in Ukraine during the Inmortal Regiment march in the streets of Moscow.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

“It remains unclear whether official Russian defence forces will seek to follow suit and open more combat roles to women,” it added.

Women have rarely taken front-line fighting roles within pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, but the U.K. noted that there was a strong tradition of female snipers and other combat troops in Soviet forces during World War II.

— Holly Ellyatt

Pressure mounts on Russia to protect Jewish community after Dagestan incident

Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting on Jan. 23, 2020, in Jerusalem.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Pressure is mounting on Russia to protect the country’s Jewish community after an angry mob stormed an airport in the republic of Dagestan on Sunday, reportedly looking for passengers that arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv.

Russian media reported that several hundred “protesters” stormed the airport terminal because of their opposition to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and war between Israel and Hamas.

On Monday, Russian media reported that over 150 active participants in the “riots” at Makhachkala airport have been identified and 60 of them detained. Nine police officers were injured as they tried to restore order, news agency Tass reported.

Israel urged Moscow to protect Jewish people after the incident, issuing a statement in which it said it “views with utmost gravity attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere.”

“Israel expects the Russian legal authorities to safeguard the well-being of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they are and to take strong action against the rioters and against the wild incitement being directed against Jews and Israelis,” it said in a statement issued on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It said it was monitoring the situation in Dagestan closely and that the Israeli ambassador to Russia, Alex Ben Zvi, was “working with the Russian authorities to secure the well-being of Jews and Israelis at the site.”

Russia’s aviation agency Rosaviatsia said the incident has been brought under control but the airport, in Makhachkala, remains closed as the authorities investigate the incident. The airport may reopen on Tuesday.

Dagestan is in Russia’s North Caucasus region and is a republic within the Russian Federation. It has a mainly Muslim population of around 3.2 million people.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine being used as a ‘battering ram’ to hit Russia, defense minister says

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed the West is using Ukraine as a “battering ram” to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia.

The minister repeated Moscow’s much-cited complaint that the Western military alliance NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe had “forced” Russia to take “countermeasures” to ensure its own safety.

“Disregarding Russia’s legitimate rights to ensure its security, the White House persistently pursued the expansion of the NATO bloc it controls to the East,” Shoigu said, according to comments published by news agency Tass, as he addressed the Beijing Xiangshan Forum on Monday.

“These aggressive steps forced us to take countermeasures,” he added.

“In response, the West openly headed for inflicting a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia in the hybrid war unleashed against us. Ukraine was cynically chosen as a battering ram, which is assigned the role of only a consumable material,” Shoigu said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Army 2023 Exhibition on Aug. 14, 2023, in Kubinka, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Speaking at the military diplomacy summit in Beijing, Russia’s defense minister then claimed the U.S. had “focused their military-political resources on the task of maintaining elusive global dominance by any means.”

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 after years of dismay at the country’s pro-Western trajectory and fears the country would join NATO, despite there being no solid plans for Kyiv to do so.

Russia’s invasion has, ironically, cemented Ukraine’s pro-Western position further, and its ambitions to join NATO and the EU, although membership of both entities is a long way off.

— Holly Ellyatt

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